Greenpeace activists hung a black cloth over British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s private mansion in northern England on Thursday, to protest his major oil and gas drilling expansion.
Climate activists draped black cloth over British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s private mansion in northern England on Thursday, in a protest against his policy to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas resources in the North Sea.
Four demonstrators from the environmental group Greenpeace managed to climb onto the Conservative party leader’s manor house in his North Yorkshire constituency of Richmond early Thursday.
They used ladders and climbing ropes to access the roof, where they unraveled 200 square meters of “oil-black fabric” to cover part of the mansion, Greenpeace said in a statement. Members of the group also unfurled a banner across the lawn which read: “Rishi Sunak – Oil Profits or Our Future?”
The protest was in response to the UK government’s plans, unveiled Monday, to issue hundreds of licenses to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea,
Sunak said that he hoped the project would provide the UK with domestically-sourced energy while it transitions to a net zero economy by 2050. He also announced plans to build two new carbon capture and storage sites, to be completed by 2030.
His office said the first 100 drilling licenses are expected to be approved in the fall, “unlocking vital reserves which can be brought online faster.”
The UK’s decision to expand fossil fuel production comes despite warnings from organizations, including the International Energy Agency, that leaders must halt fossil fuel investment if they want to curb the rise in global temperatures.
It also comes during a summer that has seen extreme heat waves sweep across southern Europe, parts of the US and Southeast Asia, which scientists have said were made significantly more likely by the human-caused climate crisis.
Greenpeace said Sunak’s announcement is a blow to the UK’s environmental goals. The group also said its protest was also aimed at stopping Sunak’s government from greenlighting Rosebank, the UK’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, which is currently awaiting approval.
“We desperately need our prime minister to be a climate leader, not a climate arsonist,” said Philip Evans, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner. “Just as wildfires and floods wreck homes and lives around the world, Sunak is committing to a massive expansion of oil and gas drilling. He seems quite happy to hold a blowtorch to the planet if he can score a few political points by sowing division around climate in this country.”
“More North Sea drilling will only benefit oil giants who stand to make even more billions from it, partly thanks to a giant loophole in Sunak’s own windfall tax,” Evans added.
Downing Street told CNN on Thursday that the police are in attendance.
“We make no apology for taking the right approach to ensure our energy security, using the resources we have here at home so we are never reliant on aggressors like Putin for our energy. We are also investing in renewables and our approach supports 1000s of British jobs,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
North Yorkshire Police said in a press release they are responding to protest activity at a property in the village of Kirby Sigston, in the north of England.